FAYETTEVILLE — Despite the loss of Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry, Barry Odom expects Arkansas to be strong at linebacker again in 2022.
Morgan and Henry combined for 201 tackles, but back is Bumper Pool who had 125 to lead the team. Jackson Woodard had seven in 11 games, Chris Paul Jr. had one in four games as he maintained his redshirt season. Drew Sanders had 24 tackles in 12 games, three starts, at Alabama while Jordan Crook and Kaden Henley were in high school.
“I think you look at that position in our conference, it’s really really hard, in my opinion, to go a 12-game regular season just with two linebackers,” Odom said. “The physicality of the league, the number of snaps that you play, all those different things into it. So coach (Mike) Scherer’s done a nice job and he’s been in the system as a player, now as a coach. He understands it.”
Paul suffered a concussion in the April 2 scrimmage and still hasn’t returned to the practice field. Another key linebacker, Mani Powell, who is a freshman from Fayetteville, is still mending from a torn ACL surgery his senior season.
“Also, in my opinion, we need to get really five guys in those two spots you feel you can go play winning football with,” Odom said. “And Chris Paul has done a great job, Bumper returning with all the experience he has, Drew Sanders, Woodard has done a nice job,
“Jordan Crook and Kaden Henley both freshmen coming in. There’s a lot of competition going on. Once we get a guy defensively I don’t look at what year he is. Is he a senior or is he a freshman? He’s our guy. Let’s get him coached up and ready to go play winning ball. Crook and Henley have only been here for a couple of months. We’re yelling and screaming at them they ought to be going to biology class in high school. But I’m glad they’re here because they’ve shown so far in nine practices they’ve got an opportunity to get in position to help us this year in some role in some capacity.”
Sanders agrees with Odom about the Hogs having good depth at linebacker. He also reported his hamstring that hampered him at Alabama last fall is fully healed.
“Pooh is a great player,” Sanders said. “He’s been doing his thing. He’s been a great person to watch, too, and learn from, too. He has tremendous ability and I think we’re really deep at that position. We’ve got a lot of great players there. With all the young kids that came in, it provides a lot of depth for us. I think if God forbid somebody goes down, we’re going to be just fine.”
Arkansas will hold an open scrimmage on Saturday at 11 a.m.